History in the making between North and South

SEOUL • The historic summit between the two Koreas will begin at 9.30am local time (8.30am Singapore time) today.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will cross the inter-Korea border on foot, becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War, according to a schedule released yesterday.

President Moon Jae In and Mr Kim will hold a tree-planting ceremony. They have selected a pine tree grown in 1953 to symbolise the year that the armistice was signed to end the three-year conflict.

The site for the tree planting will be near the road that Hyundai Group's late founder Chung Ju Yung used in the 1990s when he led truckloads of cows to the North as part of reconciliatory efforts.

The leaders will use soil collected from Mount Halla in the South and Mount Baekdu in the North, as well as water from the South's Han River and the North's Daedong River.

South Korea is said to have requested the joint tree-planting, which was accepted by the North.

The two leaders' names will be inscribed on a stone in front of the tree that will also carry the phrase, "Plant peace and prosperity".

Seoul's Defence Ministry said the two leaders will inspect the country's honour guard before the start of their talks, making Mr Kim the first North Korean leader to inspect a South Korean military honour guard, reported Yonhap news agency.

Both sides will hold talks at the Peace House, a South Korean facility located just south of the border at the joint security area of Panmunjom. Mr Kim's sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, one of his closest advisers, will be part of the North Korean delegation. She attended the Winter Olympics in the South in February as Mr Kim's envoy.

The North's ceremonial head of state, Mr Kim Yong Nam, will also be part of the delegation.

Today's meeting will mark the third inter-Korea summit. Only a handful of local journalists were allowed to cover the two previous summits, held in 2000 and 2007, as they were both staged in Pyongyang.

"For the first time in the history of inter-Korea summits, foreign correspondents will be at the upcoming event in person," said the presidential Blue House in a press release.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2018, with the headline 'History in the making between North and South'. Print Edition | Subscribe